Jeremy Clarke goes on holiday to New Zealand where he watches soaps and dices with deathby Jeremy Clarke / June 20, 1996 / Leave a comment
Auckland, New Zealand. My itinerary said: “Make your way to the Air New Zealand counter where you will uplift your tickets.” Uplift my tickets? Were they very heavy, I wondered? But it would be ungrateful of me to complain about neologisms on my itinerary when everything on it was being paid for by someone else. And the tickets were first class, discretely stating that I am a Very Important Person.
So I was perfectly happy to uplift them, upheave them or suck them up on the end of a straw. I was easy. I’m on the gravy train. I move about in international airports with the unruffled brow of one who does it all the time and pays for nothing. Liberal capitalism has stamped my credentials and welcomed me aboard. If that means speaking American now and again, that’s absolutely okay by me.
I am over here visiting a Kiwi friend I first met seven years ago at a party in Zaire. Before I came to the Land of the Long White Cloud (as the Maoris call it), I telephoned their tourist board and asked for suggestions as to what I could write about while I was there. When they asked me which publications I wrote for and I said Prospect, they offered me a week of “adrenaline activities” on the house.
“You tinny bastard,” said Ian when I explained why I would be requiring his hospitality for only two weeks instead of the full three. I presumed “tinny” meant undeservedly fortunate.
Ian and Linda (Ian’s new Australian girlfriend) live in a trim suburb of Whangerei, a largish town on the north island. During most of the fortnight I spent with them I was so jet-lagged I either slept or watched the television. During the day, while Ian was at work, Linda and I sat in the living room with the curtains drawn watching the soaps. Fortunately for me Linda is something of an expert on the soaps and was able to bring me up to date. She even showed me some vids from her collection of notable past episodes. But we looked forward to Ian coming home in the evening because, we agreed, when it comes to watching television, the more the merrier. We went out just once: to Ian’s sister’s house for tea. After the meal we watched a video of a celebrated Maori stand-up comedian who…